ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA-MARCH 10 : At the Lighthouse girls shelter girls wait for everyone to sit down for dinner March 10, 2010 in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. The Lighthouse is a World Vision sponsored shelter where 18 girls live from age 5-18. After that the state labels them as being abandoned or orphaned they go from the temporary welfare center to the more permanent shelters like the Lighthouse wher ethey live together is a home, sleeping, eating and going to public schools. Mongolia suffers with a very high number of alcoholics, all consuming cheap Mongolian vodka that is readily available to the poor and the unemployed, Many Mongolians have immigrated to the capitol city from the far away provinces seeking employment, living in rented traditional circular felt yurts with no running water or electricity. The problem is severe causing the number of street children to rise, fleeing their abusive, dysfunctional homes. Some children are regularly beaten at home, and for the impoverished it is common to send the child out to make money. During the winter this means extreme hardship, the children out on the city streets are dealing with temperatures dropping as low as -25C mid- Winter. This year Mongolia has experienced the worst winter in 30 years. Presently the government has declared an emergency requiring foreign aid to alleviate the impact of the " Zud" ( Mongolian term for a multiple natural disaster) caused by bitter cold and thick snow that has effected 68% of the provinces.
(Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)